Say the word pirate and immediately two images might pop into your head. One of them is a character from the movie, harmless and drunken and peg legged. Another image is maybe from another movie, desperate and strung out and dangerous. However, there is another type of pirate, one not so comical or cantankerous, one that strikes fear, but not in the hearts of innocent victims. I’m talking about Capt. Chris Wade and his Sea Watch crew and vessel. Wade is a pirate, but he is a protector, not a plunderer.
I know what many of you may be thinking. Sea Shepherd and Sea Watch and others like them are often badmouthed for their confrontational and sometimes controversial methods. Many people of a more conservative bent look at them as knuckleheads who are doing more harm than good. I don’t agree with that line of thinking. Everyone who loves the outdoors wants to protect it. Fishing is a time honored tradition all around the world, a practice almost every race and creed has in common. It is a birthright for humankind, and we must protect it. Fishing is great. Overfishing is not so great. And there are those, out there on the high seas, who blatantly disregard international regulations, exploit fisheries to the breaking point, and are sucking of the seas clean of its biodiversity. We need intrepid organizations like sea watch. We need to intrepid people like Capt. Chris Wade.
Wade describes himself as an ocean explorer, shark expert, and marine advocate. His story is quite interesting, one of awakening and vindication. At first, before he knew any better, he was on the wrong side. He worked for large-scale aquariums, capturing animals to bring them back for public view. After a time, he started to notice a change in the ocean, noticed the fish were disappearing and that the commercial fishing vessels were outnumbering them. Soon he realized he needed to become a part of the solution, and when he was offered to do a special on the Discovery Channel on shark conservation, he purchased a dilapidated boat that he christened the Sea Watch. That was just the beginning of the adventure.
Pirates fighting pirates
Wade calls himself an eco-pirate, and as such part of his mission is to confront actual pirates on the high seas. They may be pirate fishers, blatant polluters, illegal tradesmen, or any combination of the three. With old technology and new, with networks of local residents and concerned citizens, Capt. Wade and sea watch our modern day ecological buccaneers.
Exposing Shark Finners
I know there are more terrible things on this earth. War and disease. Starvation and religious strife. But in my mind, there is almost nothing more insidious than the shark finning. For the record, I blogged about this already and described the practice in detail so I don’t want to go into it that much more here. It is a barbaric and completely unsustainable practice, and it must stop before certain shark populations are decimated to the point of no return. As Capt. Wade says, sharks are like the white blood cells of the ocean. They weed out the sick and the week and keep the sees healthy. What would your body be like without white blood cells? Now imagine the oceans without sharks.
Out of sight, out of mind. We’re not bad people, we just don’t know. We don’t know the extent of the problem. We don’t know exactly how much illegal fishing is going on, and I bet if we did we would be shocked to our cores. Capt. Wade knows because he has been there. He has lived the life of a marine biologist and he has seen for himself firsthand the appalling exploitation that is happening far off of shore and way out of sight.
Capt. Wade and his Sea Watch know because they’ve been there and make it their job to confront fishing vessels who are breaking the law. His methods are unconventional, confrontational, and possibly a little bit insane. Watch this video and you’ll see what I mean. It might be crazy, but sometimes a little bit of crazy is needed to protect such a precious resource as our oceans.
You can learn more about Capt. Chris Wade and Sea Watch by visiting their blog Sea Watch Chronicles and following them on their Facebook page. And if you are so inclined, you may even donate a buck or two.